Race Report on SMART 2nd Subic International Marathon
4:30 PM October 24, 2009; Floridablanca, Pampanga Exit @ Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX)
This is the only Marathon Race that I endorsed and made an article in this blog because of its unique route, its advocacy, and my personal reasons. I cited a lot of reasons in my previous post about this marathon race.
Being a friend to the Race Event Manager, Adi De Los Reyes and the Race Director & Founder of the Subic International Marathon, Retired PNP Chief Superintendent Samuel Tucay, I admit that I was constantly consulted through personal meetings, telephone calls and SMS exchanges weeks before I posted my article endorsing the said Marathon Race. Mr Adi De Los Reyes and I had regular meetings where I made so many inputs on technical matters like the distance in between water aid station, the number of water aid stations, presence of kilometer markings, the availability of bite foods and sports drinks after the 20-Km mark, the serving of Draft Beer to the marathon finishers once they cross the finish line ( an idea that I suggested to Adi after witnessing the conduct of the 1st MASTERS 15K Run inside Camp Aguinaldo), and lastly, the availability of lights and illumination devices along the route where street lights are not available or installed as part of the highway. Plans and Powerpoint Presentations were sent to me through e-mails on the details on how the race will be implemented and I was impressed how Adi and his people prepared for the said race.
My Elite Team Bald Runner and Support Staff left Manila before 11:00 AM and went directly to the Remy Field in Subic Freeport. As we were passing along the stretch of SCTEX, I briefed my Elite Runners on the general terrain of the route and what to expect along the route to include the estimated point along the route where darkness starts. I even told them to take extra careful on the uphill condition before the Tipo Tollway/Booth as the space reserved for the runners is very narrow and take precaution while running inside the tunnel. I even warned them on the steep downhill portion towards the streets of Subic Freeport and ultimately towards the Remy Field. We tried to estimate the Kilometer markings from the Tipo Tollway towards the Finish Line for the appreciation of the Elite Runners if in case they want to make some burst of speed towards the Finish Line in order to overtake the runners infront of them.
After checking on the Finish Line at Remy Field, we proceeded to Jollibee for our meals before the start of the race. It was already 2:00 PM when all the members of the Elite Team Bald Runner took their meals before the start of the race. After our meal, we left some of our athletes inside the Base and the rest of the athletes served as the support crew of our elites running the full marathon distance.
After some confusion along the SCTEX highway towards the Starting Area, we missed the Floridablanca Exit and we have to take the next exit which was another 15 kilometers away! However, we reached the Starting Area at 3:45 PM and we had enough time to greet and meet other runners from Metro Manila. It was a nice get-together marathon race with the 1st BDM 102 Finishers; members of the Team Hardcore; takbo.ph people; visitors & readers of this blog; the Executives of SMART & SMARTSPORTS; runner-bloggers; 1st time Marathoners; the Kenyan runners; Chief Supt Sam Tucay; Adi De Los Reyes; MASTERS runners; and other runners coming from the different provinces and regions of the country.
Instead of stretching and having warm-up jogs before the race, the spare time before the race was spent by talking to everybody, greeting other runners, getting to know other runners, and most of all, lots of time for photo-ops! After our Race Bibs were counter-checked, we were surprised that all the runners should also dip their right index finger to an indelible ink, similar to the ink being used by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) as a sign that the runner really started at the Starting Line. Very interesting preventive measure to catch cheaters but I really don’t know if some of the runners took a ride in some of the vehicles allowed along the route, most especially when it was already totally dark along the route. Since I was warned beforehand that I will be leading the Oath of Sportsmanship among the Runners, I stayed near the the pick-up truck where the EMCEE was located. After the Invocation, Singing of the National Anthem, and Short Talk by the Race Organizer, I was called to lead the said Oath. The Oath was in English but I have to translate the whole long oath to its simplest terms, “Huwag Mandadaya” (Do Not Cheat In This Race!). After a few words from the Race Organizer, the starting gun was fired and we were off!
My personal objective in this race, being my 5th Marathon Race for the year, was to break my 33rd MILO Marathon FINALS finish time of 4:03:55 hours and have a time of sub-4 hours. However, at the back of my mind, my target time was to break my 32nd MILO Marathon FINALS time last year of 3:48:32 hours and shave some minutes from this time. The plan was to finish the 1st 10K in 52:50 minutes; half-marathon in 1:52:00 hours; and finish the race in 3:47+ hours or less. I was thinking positively about this very daring goal despite my marathon finish at MILO two weeks before this race; a slow Half-Marathon finish time at the 1st QCIM a week before this race; and I have only two tempo run sessions before this race. Well, who says that you need to taper before a Marathon Race when I am presently training for my 2nd BDM 102 or maybe my first 100-miler in the United States? Nice idea!
From the Starting Line, I immediately settled to my own running space and running pace as I saw the leading group of Kenyan runners blasting their pace at least 200 meters ahead from where I was located. After negotiating a long curve as we turned left towards the outbound lane from the SCETX, I was with a group of runners consisting of junrox aka tiger boy, runner ilustre from the Fairview Runners, and a group of PNP runners. I started to glance my GF 305 after running for about 2 minutes and I was glad that I was running within the pace of 5:33 minutes per kilometer. Junrox, Ilustre and I started to talk about the course, about the notion that the course is 85% downhill as posted by one of the runner-bloggers who made a recon of the route weeks before the race. After one kilometer of the race, it was downhill and my body tend to be pulled by the gravity and I took the advantage of making my pace faster. On the next two kilometers, I was already running at a pace below the 5-minute per kilometer pace. On our first gradual uphill, I was telling Junrox that there is an illusion on the actual terrain of the route if one is observing while riding inside a car as compared when you are actually walking or running on the said highway. Surprisingly, I was maintaining my pace on the 5:05-5:15 minute pace while running the first uphill climb of the route.
I finished the first 10K in 52: 39 minutes, a few seconds faster than the planned time. Junrox and I started to have a mini-race between the two of us where we alternately lead each one another from the Km-10 point and onwards. As we raced one another, we started to pass other runners and chase the runners infront of us. However, we increased our distance from the runners trying to keep up with our pace. My GF 305 started to register a pace of 5:25-5:35-minute per kilometer pace from Km 15 up to Km 20 and Junrox started to run a faster pace as he was ahead of me by 10 meters. My slower pace could be attributed to the dark environment and not being able to see a complete picture of what is on the ground and what is infron of me. I think my legs and mind hesitated and the fear of the unknown while running in the dark greatly contributed to my slow pace. Even if I brought my lightest handheld pin light to intermittently light the ground at least 1-2 meters ahead of me, this situation slowed me down. My legs were still strong and I felt no pain or soreness while running.
As we got nearer to the Subic Freeport, the strong headwind meeting the runners was another factor that made this race a challenging one. The strong winds was coming from the sea! It might be a significant factor that affects the pace of a runner when running against the wind but I tend to force my body to bend forward from the waist and dock in order to lessen my body resistance against the wind. The headwind, the darkness, and the lack of water and water aid stations contributed for my slower pace after passing through the Halfway Mark.
After the halfway mark, I observed that there were at least two water stations which were not placed or positioned at all! As I was infront and ahead from most of the runners, I had no problems of getting at least two cups of water in every water station table. However, I have observed that the length of the tables/water station were too short!!! If 3-4 runners stopped at the same time infront of these water stations, there would be no more space for the other runners to squeeze in to grab a cup of water from the table. But what was a glaring sin or omission from the Race Organizer is the fact that, there were no water stations on a place where the runners needed most. This is the long uphill climb towards the Tipo Tollway.
While running alone in the dark from Km 25 up to Km 32, I was thinking of what happened to those “consultations” and “suggestions” I discussed with Adi De Los Reyes. I knew Adi was very responsive to my suggestion and a regular reader of this blog but I was not satisfied with what I saw during the race. At least 36 hours before the start of the race, I made a post in this blog warning my readers to bring their headlamps and handheld mini-mag light/flashlight as darkness will meet the runners after one-hour of running. I did not see long water tables and the Sports Drinks/Pocari Sweat drinks were mixed with the Water Aid Station that I made a mistake of pouring a whole cup of Pocari Sweat on my head! Where are those bite foods, more sports drinks, Cloud 9 Chocolate bites and FITA salted cookies that I suggested placed strategically on places after the Halfway Mark? How come it is only the place leading to the Tipo area and the tunnel where there are illumination and lights? There were no lined vehicles to light up the route and there were no enough light domes to privide lights to the route. Everything went wrong on the Support Services for the runners from the Halfway Mark up to the Finish Line. I just said to myself while running that there was nothing new to expect in this race. Instead of ranting and complaining silently, I shifted my concentration on making sure to finish this race in less than 4 hours without any issues and injuries.
Not that I don’t trust our Race Organizers, most especially in Marathon Races! As “road warriors” my team competes and is prepared for the battle at hand. Since I have competitive Elite Athletes with the sole and focused objective of winning the race, my team provides a Support Group that “leap-frog” every two kilometers ahead of our runners and the support given to my runners are very exclusive and specially prepared for them. My support team provides them with Sports Gel, Sports Drinks & cold water in ice-candy plastic bags and sometimes food at the halfway mark! Aside from GU Roctane Sports Gel that I take every 10 Kilometers, it is a must that I eat one serving of hot oatmeal and hard-boiled egg. And I did that at the halfway mark of this race! Eating while doing my “brisk walking” break which took me for less than a minute. My Support Team even served hot coffee for my elite runners during the race!
As I entered the Tipo Tollway, I was confident that I could make it in sub-4 hour marathon finish. My pin light helped me a lot on that downhill dark portion where I increased my pace at 5:30 minute per kilometer until I reached the streets of Subic Freeport. As I approached the Km 40 mark, my left calf muscle started to have cramps as I increased my pace! I started talking silently to my calf muscle to relax and don’t make my legs to stop running while making my pace slower. I still maintained my running form with my left foot hitting the ground lightly and not applying any force on it. My right leg did a lot of the hard work but after running a distance of 200 meters, my cramps just disappeared. The 200 meters gave me an average pace of 6:30 minutes per kilometer pace but after my recovery from the cramps, my succeeding pacing registered a 5:45 mpk pace on my next kilometer. My last 500 meters to the Finish Line registered a fast pace of 5:00 mpk!
I finished this race in 3:58:09 hours, a decent sub-4 hours finish (based from my GF 305) with an average pace of 5:45 minutes per kilometer which I consider the most challenging Marathon Race I’ve experienced for this year.
After crossing the finish line, I was waiting for the race volunteers to serve me a cold Draft Beer, instead, I was greeted by runner-bloggers and runners who were at the Remy Field Oval Track. Being frustrated not seeing a Draft Beer Station, I just left the Area and proceeded to our support vehicle and prepared to leave for Manila.
I dedicate this Marathon Race to Mamang (my Mom) who died after I finished the 1st Subic International Half-Marathon last year. I am sure she must be proud of me with her “friends” in heaven!
(Note: I will be writing about my detailed observations and assessment on this race in my next blog post)
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